When Tiara Chadran came to Pitt to continue her gymnastics career, she didn’t know a high school rival would follow her to the team a year later.
She and sophomore teammate Kelly Burak competed against each other for years before they became teammates on a collegiate level.
“I was [a member of] Pittsburgh Northstars and she [was a member of] Arcadia,” said Chadran, a junior and captain of Pitt’s gymnastics team. “That was more of a healthy rivalry. We also did high school gymnastics … and it was like college, in a sense, because we’re fighting for our hometowns.”
Although Chadran began gymnastics at age three for fun, her inspiration to continue comes from star gymnast Nastia Liukin.
“She was like the big shot [of gymnastics] whenever I was really young,” Chadran said. “I try to kind of mimic her, as far as her poses and stuff. But she has her own style.”
Chadran competes in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, but she has not done so in two years because of a knee injury. Although the season doesn’t begin until December with the Blue-Gold exhibition, Chadran has been working to recover and fully prepare herself for the season for a while now.
Chadran spoke with The Pitt News about her goals for the season, her favorite events to compete in and pre-meet rituals.
The Pitt News: What are your personal and team goals for this upcoming season?
Tiara Chadran: I think our team this year is super talented. We have so much potential, despite a couple of injuries knocking us down a little bit. The attitude on our team, compared to last year, has completely transformed. We’re all rooting for the same thing, we’re moving in a positive direction this year, and I’m really excited to see where it takes us, if we just keep it up.
TPN: At what age did you begin training in gymnastics?
TC: I was three. I did gymnastics for fun until I was a freshman in high school. When I made it to nationals, then it became serious, because they looked at me differently. I still enjoyed it, but it was different.
TPN: Out of the three events you compete in — uneven bars, floor exercise or vault — which is your favorite?
TC: I like uneven bars the best!
TPN: What’s your best strategy for managing your academic life, social life, family life and training and competing?
TC: It took me a while to figure out how to manage everything as far as my social life, my family life, my sports, my academics. The best thing I could do is make lists, and I have to make a schedule for each day. I have most of my classes in the morning, I have practice in the afternoon. I’ll either have night classes or tutoring, then after that I go to the library to get my class work done.
TPN: Do you have any pre-meet/pre-event rituals that help pump you up or calm you down?
TC: I have a playlist that I listen to, and we go up early, stand on the equipment and just visualize to get your mind right. I just try to stay calm, and I’ll pray. Then we have our team huddle to get pumped up.
TPN: Gymnastics is not only a team sport, it’s also an individual sport. Are there any internal rivalries between your fellow gymnasts that help compete to become a better team?
TC: There’s lineups for each event, and only six could compete at every meet, and there’s obviously more than six of us on the team. So there’s that internal competitiveness, but that motivates each of us to do the best that we can. But obviously we’re supportive of each other at the same time through that. If she gets in the lineup and you don’t, you don’t hate her for it. That’s motivation I have to have to get into the lineup and that pushes other girls harder to hold their positions.